Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate if young people with insidious-onset neck pain who spend long periods on mobile electronic devices (known as “text neck") have impaired cervical proprioception and if this is related to time on devices.
Methods: A 2-group comparative observational study was conducted at an Australian university. Twenty-two participants with text neck and 22 asymptomatic controls, all of whom were 18 to 35 years old and spent ≥4 hours per day on unsupported electronic devices, were assessed using the head repositioning accuracy (HRA) test. Differences between groups were calculated using independent sample t-tests, and correlations between neck pain intensity, time on devices, and HRA test were performed using Pearson’s bivariate analysis.
Results: During cervical flexion, those with text neck (n = 22, mean age ± standard deviation [SD]: 21 ± 4 years, 59% female) had a 3.9° (SD: 1.4°) repositioning error, and the control group (n = 22, 20 ± 1 years, 68% female) had a 2.9° (SD: 1.2°) error. The mean difference was 1° (95% confidence interval: 0–2, P = .02). For other cervical movements, there was no difference between groups. There was a moderately significant correlation (P ≤ .05) between time spent on electronic devices and cervical pain intensity and between cervical pain intensity and HRA during flexion.
Conclusion: The participants with text neck had a greater proprioceptive error during cervical flexion compared with controls. This could be related to neck pain and time spent on electronic devices.
Author keywords: Neck Pain; Proprioception; Cervical Vertebrae
Author affiliations: Australian Catholic University. School of Physiotherapy (Australia / New South Wales / Sydney)
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